Echoes of Ellington Jazz Orchestra – Jazz Planets: A Tribute To Gustav Holst and Duke Ellington, arranged by Peter Long
(Right Track Records 2018. CD review by Frank Griffith)
Peter Long‘s latest Echoes of Ellington recording marks the centenary of Gustav Holst’s premiere of his innovative The Planets suite which has proven to be enduringly popular and highly influential. Long has reworked each planet through his “DukeBillity” lens portaying each orb with distinctive soloists from the band.
These include alto saxophonist Colin Skinner (Johnny Hodges), tenorist Mike Hall (Paul Gonsalves) and the baritone sax of Jay Craig (Harry Carney). The plunger tombone of Chris Traves (Quention Jackson) shines and sputters as does the fleet and fit trumpet of James Davidson (Clark Terry) to great effect. In addition, pianist, Colin Good, demonstrates a spirited nod to Ellington and Strayhorn on Uranus as does the leader’s clarinet on his tour de force delivery on Neptune (Jimmy Hamilton).
This Ducal treatment is definitely not Lo Cal with Long’s sumptious and calorie-rich harmonies infused with meaty rhythmic figures upping the stakes for all aboard. Elington’s music contains a unique blend of contrast and contradictions. While visceral and elegant it also demonstrates a seamless mix of the traditional and progressive amidst plenty of shouting, bridged with intimately reflective passages. This is music that is unique and refined yet earthy and exciting.
Long explains: “Ellington and Holst share the abilty to pull off the same clever trick. Both composers use a very high amount of sohisticated harmony and rhythm but have the abilty to infuse the whole thing with a high level of humanity with their abilties as melodicists. It’s this, and the extra magic ingredient of ‘genius’ that hooks the listener in.”
Long’s stable of like minded players has done an amazing job delivering this landmark achievement performing with unbridled creativity while embracing Ellingtonia at every turn. A universal truth indeed. This Gustav is Good Stuff!